Seeing how tough it is for poor patients to get the care they need gave senatorial aspirant and former Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go the idea to put up Malasakit Centers.
“Matinding awa sa mga mahihirap na pasyente ang nagtulak sa akin na tutukan ang pagsusulong ng Malasakit Center,” Go said in a radio interview Thursday.
Go recalled that as trusted aide of then Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, he was faced daily with the task of helping people who were seeking medical assistance from the mayor. He noted that Duterte wanted him to attend to all the concerns even for non-Davao residents seeking help.
“Mayroon po kaming Lingap Center sa Davao na tumutulong sa mga mahihirap gamit ang pondo ng city government. Doon po nagsimula yung ideya ng Malasakit Center,” said Go, a senatorial candidate in the May 2019 midterm elections.
A Malasakit Center is a one-stop shop where the DOH, DSWD, PAGCOR, PCSO and Philhealth desks are in one room to make it easier and faster for poor patients to avail themselves of medical or financial assistance from the government.
With funding support from the Office of the President, the Malasakit Center can help cut down hospital expenses of poor patients to the barest minimum.
“Dati po kasi, kung iisa-isahin nung pasyente pagpunta sa iba-ibang ahensya para humingi ng tulong aabutin siya halos ng isang linggo para mapuntahan lahat at gagastos pa siya ng pamahase at pagkain. Ngayon po, sa Malasakit Center, sa isang kwarto lang siya pupunta para matulungan sa kanyang problema,” Go explained.
In running for the Senate, Go’s legislative agenda include the institutionalization of Malasakit Centers so that every province and urban center of the country could possibly have their own one-stop shop medical assistance center.
Meanwhile, a beneficiary of Malasakit Center confirmed Thursday that there is no need for any ID or endorsement of any politician to avail of the assistance provided by the center.
In a separate radio interview, beneficiary Rachel Santos, 23 of Paco, Manila recalled that his mother had, in fact, an easy time seeking assistance from the center when they sought help after she was confined at the Philippine General Hospital and underwent surgery for gall stones.
Earlier, a picture of fake Malasakit Center ID cards were posted in social media by a blogger known to be a critic of the Duterte administration.
“Wala po,” she said, when asked if the Malasakit Center required her to present any ID. “Pagpunta nga po doon (sa center) bumalik na kaagad ‘yung mother ko sa ward ko. Ang sabi ko nga ang bilis naman.”
On Wednesday Go clarified that every Filipino is qualified to seek assistance from the Malasakit Center as he warned the public against such fake Malasakit ID cards.
Rachel said she and her mother were grateful not only because the process was so simple and fast but also because she did not have to pay anything at all when she was discharged from the hospital last January 9, 2019.
“Napabilis po ‘yung proseso kasi ibibigay mo lang po ang mga kailangan mo doon, ibibigay mo lang ‘yung papers na kailangan sa hospital at sila na po ‘yung mag-aayos ng lahat. Iyon po ang nag-asikaso noon at wala po akong binayaran,” she said.
She thanked Go, who was also in the line during the radio interview, for the Malasakit Center program.
“Huwag po kayong magpasalamat sa akin. Pera nyo ‘yan, sa taong bayan po iyan,” Go said.
So far there are 20 Malasakit Centers established in various areas of the country with additional centers in other areas in the pipeline.
Apart from improved health services, Go’s legislative agenda covers agriculture, anti-illegal drugs and anti-criminality, housing, education, long-term sports development, anti-corruption drive, localized peace talks, fire protection and prevention, creation of a Department of OFW, barangay welfare, and improved support for senior citizens.